-how we got the atomic and hydrogen bombs -what we have done with them -how many we have now and what their status is -what do we do with them now? A presentation of nomorebombs.org Disclosure: all of these images have been borrowed from online sources, without permission.
How it began 1939: FDR receives the letter from Einstein and Szilard that starts the process leading to The Bomb. Physicist Leo Szilard Physicist Albert Einstein President Franklin D Roosevelt
1942: Manhattan Project begins. In just over three years, it will grow to include the fuel production reactors at Hanford WA and Oak Ridge TN, numerous research facilities and weapons factories, and the prime nuclear weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, NM. General Leslie GrovesDr J Robert Oppenheimer
The Trinity Bomb in its tower. Ultimate product of the Manhattan Project, built at Los Alamos. Implosion design, fueled by Hanford plutonium.
5:30 AM July 16, 1945 Trinity: The first nuclear explosion, Alamagordo Bombing Range, NM 16 kiloton yield
POTSDAM CONFERENCE: July 15-28, 1945 Germany has surrendered, Roosevelt has died, Stalin and Churchill meet with Truman to decide how to divide up Europe, and finish off Japan. Truman gets Trinity news, but doesn’t tell Stalin. Byrnes advises Truman to demand unconditional Japanese surrender, while delaying Soviet invasion from Manchuria. The stage is set. Soviet President Joseph Stalin British PM Winston Churchill Sec of State James Byrnes US President Harry Truman
HIROSHIMA Aug 6, 1945 16 Kiloton blast 80,000 dead
NAGASAKI Aug 9, 1945 : 21 Kiloton blast 70,000 killed immediately, another 70,000 over the next year
1930s economic chaos→ fear of Hitler → building A-Bomb → destroying a completely different enemy → creating a new enemy → building more bombs → new enemy building more bombs → through the next 60 years → and more bombs → and where will it all end? like the nuclear chain reaction itself, the cascade of consequences spreads out over time, with a life of its own.
COLD WAR ESCALATION After 1945, US and USSR Atomic bomb and Hydrogen (thermonuclear) bomb production increased dramatically, as did the tests. Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb test Sept 1949, Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. 22 Kiloton
First US Hydrogen Bomb Nov 1, 1952, Enewetak Atoll, RMI 10 Megaton In the Republic of the Marshall Islands alone, the US conducted 67 nuclear weapon tests, from 1946 to 1958, devastating this helpless Pacific community.
Largest US Thermonuclear Test Mar 1, 1954 Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands 15 Megaton yield, about 1000 times Hiroshima bomb Most widespread radioactive fallout event in history.
The northern half of the archipelago was contaminated
2 decades of Cumulative Radioactive Fallout from Nevada Test Site: 1951-1992, 100 atmospheric and 800 underground nuclear explosions
Tsar Bomba Largest Thermonuclear Test ever, Oct 30, 1961 Novaya Zemlya, Russian Arctic Island 55 Megaton yield
Meanwhile, we spread our bombs all over Europe and America, and things started going wrong. The Cuban Missile Crisis was not the only time we flirted with catastrophe. Here are a few of the hundreds of Accidents and Near Misses: -1956, a B-47 landing at Lakenheath Air Base, Britain, crashed into a storage hut full of atomic bombs, scattering them across the field. 4 crewmen died, but none of the bombs exploded. -1958, a B-47 accidentally dropped an H-bomb at Myrtle Beach, SC. The high explosives detonated, but the nuclear core did not.
Goldsboro, NC, B-52 crashed with 2 H-bombs, 1961 Removing part of the H-bomb casing. Nuclear Core remains, buried in the mud.
Tragedy over Palomares, Spain, 1966 2000 Tons of radioactive contaminated soil, in barrels, from cleanup around Palomares, ready for shipment back to US, for burial. * B-52 collided with KC-135 tanker, both crashed. 7 crewmen killed, 3 H-Bombs fell on land, 1 into Mediterranean
Thule, Greenland, Crash Landing, 1968 Half mile long radioactive scorching of sea ice in Baffin Bay, Where a B-52 crashed and 4 H-bombs were breached by detonation of their conventional explosives. One airman died.
And they are still happening: - 1980, at Damascus, Arkansas, a multiple warhead ICBM exploded in its silo. The exploding fuel threw one warhead half a mile. The nuclear material did not detonate, but there was a release of radioactive fallout. - 1995, Russian radar mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for a US ICBM, and an alert was sounded. A full scale launch of Russian ICBMs toward US targets was initiated, and finally cancelled by Russian President Boris Yeltsin with minutes to spare. - 2007, a B-52 was accidentally loaded with 6 nuclear missiles at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana, and left parked there unguarded for 36 hours, until somebody noticed.
1970 Non Proliferation Treaty signed by 190 countries -Nuclear armed nations agreed to share nonmilitary technology -Unarmed nations agreed not to make nuclear weapons As a result, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and other countries, who had started weapons programs, shut them down.
THE RACE CONTINUED Both US and USSR continued testing & upgrading their nuclear technology, and other nations joined the Nuclear Club: Britain, France, China, and Israel, then India and Pakistan, and most recently North Korea. By the mid 1980s, the combined total peaked at about 73,000, and only began to decline when the USSR collapsed.
START, 1994 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty began to rein in US and Russia together, Setting goals of 6000 warheads each NEW START, 2011 Was to reduce both arsenals to 1500 each We have failed to reach either goal. As of 2015, US has 7000, Russia 8000, And including the other 7 members of the nuclear club, there are now about 16,000 nuclear warheads worldwide.
So we, the United States, have about 7000 nuclear warheads: 76 B-52 bombers, which can carry 8 bombs or 20 cruise missiles, and 18 B-2 bombers, which can deliver 16 bombs each. 450 ICBMs in silos, with up to 3 warheads each. 288 Trident missiles, each carrying 4 warheads, aboard 14 submarines. And many more in storage, awaiting deployment. These warheads are of varying ages, all of them several decades old, and the electronics associated with their launch and security systems are obsolete. What do we do with them?
Current Nuclear Weapons Budget Plans call for a 30 year “modernization”, Costing $30 Billion annually, Or a Trillion dollars overall, with almost nothing for disarmament.
Mutually Assured Destruction This is the insane game we have been playing for 70 years, perhaps we have pushed our luck long enough? M.A.D.
We do have a choice. Right now Congress, Pentagon, and Energy Department planners are deciding whether to: * abide by the treaties we have signed, and resume in good faith our stated common goal of eliminating nuclear weapons, or to: * renege on those promises, and continue to build more, bigger, and better bombs. Not knowing what future elections will bring, this may be our best opportunity to effect positive change in the direction our government moves. And it is certain that Russia won‘t disarm without us.
Here are some organizations working towards nuclear disarmament, and all need our help. Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Nuclear Zero Ploughshares Fund International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons American Friends Service Committee Union of Concerned Scientists Council for a Livable World International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Global Zero Peace Action Network Don’t Bank on the Bomb And there are more. Please check them out, and get involved with the ones that best fit your own objectives.
And we can do more than write checks and sign online petitions: -We can contact our representatives and demand an end to funding of more nukes, and swift accomplishment of our treaty obligations. -We can talk with our friends, family, and neighbors, and share information. Like this. -We can divest, and encourage our friends and family to divest, in the financial institutions that are getting rich from the nuclear military industrial complex. -We can elect representatives at all levels of government that support nuclear disarmament, and then hold them to their promises. The important thing is: WE MUST ACT, because Congress won’t without us..
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